A referendum on whether Georgia should keep changing its clocks for daylight saving time got one step closer to voters’ ballots Monday morning.
Senate Bill 351 passed 53-0. The legislation would add a nonbinding ballot question to the November general election. Voters would be asked if Georgia should keep observing the annual time change, switch to year-round standard time (marked by winding clocks back an hour in late fall) or to switch to year-round daylight saving time (marked by moving clocks ahead an hour in early spring). Changing to permanent daylight saving time would require approval from the U.S. Congress, while changing to standard time would not.
Because the referendum is nonbinding, it would not result in any immediate change. If voters indicate they want to make a change, the vote would be used to draft legislation reflecting that.
State Sen. Bill Heath, R-Bremen, said medical studies about the effects of changing the clocks were striking to him as a doctor. Heath, a co-sponsor on the bill, cited studies from publications including the Journal of Biological Rhythms that showed increases in heart attacks in the two weeks immediately following “springing forward” and “falling back” with the clocks.
House Bill 709, which also seeks the time change referendum, has not yet made it out of committee.
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